Book Review: January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her by Michael Schofield

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Even as an infant, it was obvious that there was something different about January. She constantly required stimulation and it only got worse as she got older. She needed hours of activity before being able to sleep, would become aggressive if she couldn’t get her own way, and had difficulty interacting with other children her own age. January had multiple imaginary friend who she seemed to believe truly existed.

Throughout time her behavior becomes increasingly more aggressive and violent, often hitting her parents to the point of bleeding. Eventually her parents have no choice but to take her to see a psychiatrist, who seemed to be baffled by January’s behavior and cannot give a precise diagnosis. January’s parents believe that their child is suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia – a diagnosis which the doctors are reluctant to give out.

January First is written by January’s father Michael Schofield. It tells the story of his journey to try to save his daughter from her own mind.

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085Hazel Grace has been suffering from cancer for years. Despite undergoing a medical procedure that has bought her valuable years, she is still terminal. No longer attending school, she spends most of her days at home with her parents watching reality TV. Her only outlet is a weekly Cancer Kid Support Group she goes to even though she dreads going most of the time.

That is until one day she meets Augustus Waters at the Group. Augustus, who is in remission, shows Hazel that she is so much more than her illness.

What I Was Thinking Before I Started Reading: I keep hearing so much about this book, I need to finally read it.
What I Was Thinking in the Middle of Reading: OK, seriously this is not normal. I am hyperventilating over here from crying.
What I Was Thinking When I Finished Reading: You know when people say they want to crawl up inside a book and live there forever? This is what they are talking about.

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Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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When high schooler Hannah Baker committed suicide, most of her teachers and classmates had no idea what brought on this tragedy. One student particularly struggling with the ordeal was Clay Jensen. Clay admired Hannah mostly from afar, although they did interact at their job in the movie theater and at a party just a few days before Hannah killed herself.

While Hannah did not leave a suicide note, she left something even more valuable to explain why she did what she did. Once she had made up her mind, Hannah recorded a series of thirteen tapes. Each tape is addressed to a different student in the school, with one  going to a teacher. When Clay receives the tapes, he goes through a series of emotions and discoveries, including who Hannah really was and the role he may have played in her suicide.

What I Was Thinking Before I Started Reading: This sounds like a pretty awesome premise for a book and will possibly make me cry. Also, I know people who have read it and they loved it. I’m excited for this.
What I Was Thinking in the Middle of Reading: I don’t understand what this author wants. Are we supposed to empathize with Hannah or is OK that we dislike her?
What I Was Thinking When I Was Finished Reading: Well that had the potential to be SO much better.

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Book Review: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Identical twins Kate and Violet were born with special a “sense” – they had psychic abilities that allowed them to see certain future events and see other people’s secrets. After being shunned in junior high school for revealing her powers to one of the popular girls, Kate decides that her powers are more a curse than a blessing. While her sister Violet embraces her psychic abilities, Kate does everything in her power to destroy them.

Years later, Kate is happily married with two kids. She thought she had completely moved on from her past, but everything is brought back to the surface when Violet makes a public prediction that an earthquake will hit their hometown of St. Louis sometime in the near future. Kate struggles with reconnecting with her abilities and her sister while also trying to protect her family from the backlash the prediction has resulted in.

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The Best of the Best of 2013

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Warning: This post will contain more than just books and food. Don’t worry, it will have those things but sprinkled with some other entertainment mediums, memories, and hot guys!

As most people when New Year’s is approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year. 2013 has been a year of ups and downs for me. Unfortunately, this year will always been known as the year I lost my favorite person in the entire world, my grandmother. But for all the heartache 2013 brought, there are also a lot of great things I have to look back on. I went on an amazing trip to Mexico with my sisters, nephew, and brother-in-law. I also went on a 9-day road trip with a good friend to six states I’d never been to before. It was an exhilarating trip. I recommend everyone go on at least one road trip in their life.

I’ve also seen a lot of great movies, read some terrific books, and ate some delicious food throughout the year. Here are some of my bests of 2013.

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Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Jacob’s grandfather was always eccentric. He was always telling his grandson tales of the extraordinary children he knew back when he was a young boy. He also suffered from paranoia, expressing fear of the “monsters” out to get him. No one believed the stories he would tell, not even Jacob. But when his grandfather is found dead in the woods and Jacob believes he sees the “monster” who committed the murder, Jacob starts to realize that his grandfathers stories may have been more than just fairy tales.

The family tragedy and discovery that his grandfather may have been right all along, sends Jacob to a remote Island off Wales so he can try to better understand who is grandfather was. While on the Island Jacob discovers a group of children who may be able to help Jacob not only better understand his grandfather but also help him figure out who he really is.

What I Was Thinking Before I Started Reading: OK, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but the cover of this book is so cool. And there are a ton of creepy black and white photos throughout the book.
What I Was Thinking in the Middle of Reading: I am pretty sure I’m reading about an alternate universe of the X-Men.
What I Was Thinking When I Was Finished Reading: I kind of liked this book. It was a little all over the place at times, but it was intriguing. I’ll definitely catch up with the second book in the series soon.

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Santa Cupcakes

PhotoGrid_1387409782815Still looking for that last minute gift to get your co-workers, child’s teacher, mailman, etc? Why not go with baked goods?! They’re cheap, relatively easy, and personal. I know that I LOVE getting sweets as a Holiday present, especially a cupcake. You want to give me a cupcake as a present, I promise we will be best friends!

At my job we don’t do traditional gifts but we do all get each other a little something, mostly cookies or candy. Last year I gave cookies so this year I wanted to get something a little different. You can’t really go wrong with a cupcake. And I found this adorable way of packaging them so it was really a no brainer. Everyone in the office was getting an individually wrapped cupcake!

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To save time I made vanilla cupcakes from cake mix. I did make my own buttercream frosting. You can find the recipe on how to make the perfect frosting here. Decorating them was a piece of cake. I’m usually not great with pretty looking food. My food may taste good but I’ll never win any prizes on my presentation. However, these are super simple to decorate and they are adorable!

Once the cupcakes were all decorated, I just needed to wrap them up. I bought a package of 30 plastic tumblers from the Deals store for only $3. They were the perfect size. The cupcakes fit right in. Then you just throw the cup into a plastic treat bag and tie it up with a ribbon. Over all, not including the baking, I want to say the project took about thirty minutes to prepare 20 cupcakes.

I brought the cupcakes into my office today and they were a huge hit. Everyone loved them and they all raved about how they were packaged.

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